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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has confirmed a sighting of Tad Cummins and Elizabeth Thomas.
The bureau says investigators obtained surveillance images late Thursday night from a Walmart on East I-240 Service Road in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, after receiving information from a tip.
The footage, which is from March 15, shows Thomas, 15, with Cummins, her 50-year-old former teacher, shopping at the store. The TBI says they used cash to buy various food items.
Authorities point out it appears Cummins has darkened his hair and Thomas may currently have red hair.
The TBI says efforts to determine what car the two are travelling in remain ongoing.
PHOTOS: AMBER Alert for Elizabeth Thomas
The confirmed sighting in Oklahoma City is the first since the teenager and her former teacher left Columbia, Tennessee, on March 13.
Friday afternoon, Thomas’ family released a statement about the sighting saying, “The Oklahoma City sighting is the first piece of evidence that Tad and Elizabeth did leave together and they are together. It is no longer a matter of speculation. We now know with certainty that he took her. Seeing those photos of Elizabeth brought me such mixed emotions. It was good to be able to see her face, finally. Every time I drive by Shoney’s I think about how that was the last place she was seen alive. It’s so good to know she’s out there. My precious little girl is out there, and we have to bring her home.”
The statement continued, “Please take note that Elizabeth’s hair is dyed darker now, as is Tad’s. They have made an effort to disguise themselves. We will not be fooled by this disguise. Our family cannot express how much we appreciate everyone searching for them and remaining aware that they are out there. I feel confident with the help of law enforcement, the media and the public we will find them and we will bring my daughter home. As always, thank you all for your continued prayers. It is through my faith in God alone I am able to hold out hope each and every day that I will see my daughter again soon. My family and I thank you for your respect for our privacy during these trying times and we thank you all for your support.”
Jason Whatley, an attorney who represents Thomas family, said it appears the shirt Elizabeth was wearing in the surveillance footage on March 15 is the same one Cummins was seen wearing in surveillance footage before the two disappeared.
The shirt appears to be too big for the girl.
“Too see the child’s face, to see her wearing what looks like the same shirt Tad Cummins was wearing at the Walmart in Columbia two and a half weeks ago, it’s devastating to see how she’s controlled by him as they walk through there,” said Whatley.
The TBI says they have had a total of 1,257 tips come in.
It remains unknown if they were still traveling in Cummins’ silver Nissan Rogue with Tennessee tag 976-ZPT.
Thomas is a 15-year-old white female, with hazel eyes, stands 5 feet tall and weighs 120 pounds. She was last seen wearing a flannel shirt and black leggings.
Cummins is a white male, who stands 6 feet tall, weighs approximately 200 pounds, and has brown hair and eyes. He’s believed to be armed with two handguns.
Anyone with information on their whereabouts is urged to call 1-800-TBI-FIND.